Leviticus 19

Religious and Social Regulations

1The Lord spoke to Moses: 2“Speak to the whole congregation of the Israelites and tell them, ‘You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. 3Each of you must respect his mother and his father,
Heb “A man his mother and his father you [plural] shall fear.” The LXX, Syriac, Vulgate, and certain Targum mss reverse the order, “his father and his mother.” The term “fear” is subject to misunderstanding by the modern reader, so “respect” has been used in the translation. Cf. NAB, NRSV “revere”; NASB “reverence.”
and you must keep my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.
4Do not turn to idols,
Regarding the difficult etymology and meaning of the term for “idols” (אֱלִילִים, ’elilim), see B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 126; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 304; N. H. Snaith, Leviticus and Numbers (NBC), 89; and Judith M. Hadley, NIDOTTE 1:411. It appears to be a diminutive play on words with אֵל (’el, “god; God”) and, perhaps at the same time, recalls a common Semitic word for “worthless; weak; powerless; nothingness.” Snaith suggests a rendering of “worthless godlings.”
and you must not make for yourselves gods of cast metal. I am the Lord your God.

Eating the Peace Offering

5 “‘When you sacrifice a peace offering sacrifice to the Lord, you must sacrifice it so that it is accepted for you.
Heb “for your acceptance”; cf. NIV, NLT “it will be accepted on your behalf.”
6It must be eaten on the day of your sacrifice and on the following day,
Heb “from the following day” (HALOT 572 s.v. מָחֳרָת 2.b).
but what is left over until the third day must be burned up.
Heb “shall be burned with fire”; KJV “shall be burnt in the fire.” Because “to burn with fire” is redundant in contemporary English the present translation simply has “must be burned up.”
7If, however, it is eaten
Heb “And if being eaten [infinitive absolute] it is eaten [finite verb].” For the infinitive absolute used to highlight contrast rather than emphasis see GKC 343 #113.p.
on the third day, it is spoiled,
Or “desecrated,” or “defiled,” or “forbidden.” For this difficult term see J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:422, on Lev 7:18.
it will not be accepted,
8and the one who eats it will bear his punishment for iniquity
See the note on Lev 17:16 above.
because he has profaned
Regarding “profaned,” see the note on Lev 10:10 above.
what is holy to the Lord.
Heb “the holiness of the Lord.”
That person will be cut off from his people.
On the “cut off” penalty see the note on Lev 7:20.

Leaving the Gleanings

9 “‘When you gather in the harvest
Heb “And in your harvesting the harvest.”
of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field,
Heb “you shall not complete the corner of your field to harvest.”
and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest.
10You must not pick your vineyard bare,
Heb “And you shall not deal severely with your vineyard.”
and you must not gather up the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

Dealing Honestly

11 “‘You must not steal, you must not tell lies, and you must not deal falsely with your fellow citizen.
Heb “you shall not deal falsely a man with his fellow citizen.”
12You must not swear falsely
Heb “And you shall not swear to the falsehood.”
in my name, so that you do not profane
Heb “and you shall not profane”; NAB “thus profaning.”
the name of your God. I am the Lord.
13You must not oppress your neighbor or commit robbery against him.
Heb “You shall not oppress your neighbor and you shall not rob.”
You must not withhold
Heb “hold back with you”; perhaps “hold back for yourself” (cf. NRSV “keep for yourself”).
the wages of the hired laborer overnight until morning.
14You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person.
Heb “You shall not curse a deaf [person] and before a blind [person] you shall not put a stumbling block.”
You must fear
Heb “And you shall fear.” Many English versions (e.g., KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV) regard the Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) as adversative in force here (“but”).
your God; I am the Lord.

Justice, Love, and Propriety

15 “‘You
Smr has the singular rather than the plural “you” of the MT, which brings this verb form into line with the ones surrounding it.
must not deal unjustly in judgment:
Heb “You shall not do injustice in judgment” (NASB similar); cf. NIV “do not pervert justice.”
you must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich.
Heb “You shall not lift up faces of poor [people] and you shall not honor faces of great.”
You must judge your fellow citizen fairly.
Heb “In righteousness you shall judge your fellow citizen.”
16You must not go about as a slanderer among your people.
The term רָכִיל (rakhil) is traditionally rendered “slanderer” here (so NASB, NIV, NRSV; see also J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 304, 316), but the exact meaning is uncertain (see the discussion in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 129). It is sometimes related to I רָכַל (“to go about as a trader [or “merchant”]”; BDB 940 s.v. רָכַל), and taken to refer to cutthroat business dealings, but there may be a II רָכַל, the meaning of which is dubious (HALOT 1237 s.v. II *רכל). Some would render it “to go about as a spy.”
You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake.
Heb “You shall not stand on the blood of your neighbor.” This part of the verse is also difficult to interpret. The rendering here suggests that one will not allow a neighbor to be victimized, whether in court (cf. v. 15) or in any other situation (see the discussion in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 129).
I am the Lord.
17You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him.
Heb “and you will not lift up on him sin.” The meaning of the line is somewhat obscure. It means either (1) that one should rebuke one’s neighbor when he sins lest one also becomes guilty, which is the way it is rendered here (see NIV, NRSV, NEB, JB; see also B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 129–30, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 303, and the discussion on pp. 316-17), or (2) one may rebuke one’s neighbor without incurring sin just as long as he does not hate him in his heart (see the first part of the verse; cf. NASB, NAB).
18You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge
Heb “and you shall not retain [anger?].” This line seems to refer to the retaining or maintaining of some vengeful feelings toward someone. Compare the combination of the same terms for taking vengeance and maintaining wrath against enemies in Nahum 1:2 (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 305).
against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself.
Some scholars make a distinction between the verb אָהַב (’ahav, “to love”) with the direct object and the more unusual construction with the preposition לְ (lamed) as it is here and in Lev 19:34 and 2 Chr 19:2 only. If there is a distinction, the construction here probably calls for direct and helpful action toward one’s neighbor (see the discussion in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 305, and esp. 317–18). Such love stands in contrast to taking vengeance or bearing a grudge against someone and, in NT terms, amounts to fulfilling the so-called “golden rule” (Matt 7:12).
I am the Lord.
19You must keep my statutes. You must not allow two different kinds of your animals to breed,
Heb “Your animals, you shall not cross-breed two different kinds.”
you must not sow your field with two different kinds of seed, and you must not wear
Heb “you shall not cause to go up on you.”
a garment made of two different kinds of fabric.
Cf. Deut 22:11 where the Hebrew term translated “two different kinds” (כִּלְאַיִם, kilayim) refers to a mixture of linen and wool woven together in a garment.

Lying with a Slave Woman

20 “‘When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman,
Heb “And a man when he lies with a woman the lying of seed.”
although she is a slave woman designated for another man and she has not yet been ransomed, or freedom has not been granted to her, there will be an obligation to pay compensation.
That is, the woman had previously been assigned for marriage to another man but the marriage deal had not yet been consummated. In the meantime, the woman has lost her virginity and has, therefore, lost part of her value to the master in the sale to the man for whom she had been designated. Compensation was, therefore, required (see the explanation in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 130–31).
They must not be put to death, because she was not free.
21He must bring his guilt offering to the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, a guilt offering ram,
On the guilt offering see the note on Lev 5:15 above.
22and the priest is to make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin that he has committed,
Heb “on his sin which he has sinned.”
and he will be forgiven
Heb “there shall be forgiveness to him” or “it shall be forgiven to him.”
of his sin
Heb “from his sin.”
that he has committed.

The Produce of Fruit Trees

23 “‘When you enter the land and plant any fruit tree,
Heb “tree of food”; KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV “trees for food.”
you must consider its fruit to be forbidden.
Heb “you shall circumcise its fruit [as] its foreskin,” taking the fruit to be that which is to be removed and, therefore, forbidden. Since the fruit is uncircumcised it is forbidden (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 306, and esp. B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 131–32).
Three years it will be forbidden to you;
Heb “it shall be to you uncircumcised.”
it must not be eaten.
24In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, praise offerings
See B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 132, where the translation reads “set aside for jubilation”; a special celebration before the Lord.
to the Lord.
25Then in the fifth year you may eat its fruit to add its produce to your harvest.
Heb “to add to you its produce.” The rendering here assumes that the point of this clause is simply that finally being allowed to eat the fruit in the fifth year adds the fruit of the tree to their harvest. Some take the verb to be from אָסַף (’asaf, “to gather”) rather than יָסַף (yasaf, “to add; to increase”), rendering the verse, “to gather to you the produce” (E. S. Gerstenberger, Leviticus [OTL], 260, and see the versions referenced in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 306). Others take it to mean that by following the regulations given previously they will honor the Lord so that the Lord will cause the trees to increase the amount of fruit they would normally produce (Hartley, 303, 306; cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).
I am the Lord your God.

Blood, Hair, and Body

26 “‘You must not eat anything with the blood still in it.
Heb “You shall not eat on the blood.” See the extensive remarks in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 319-20, and B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 132–33. The LXX has “on the mountains,” suggesting that this is a prohibition against illegitimate places and occasions of worship, not the eating of blood.
You must not practice either divination or soothsaying.
Heb “You shall not practice divination and you shall not practice soothsaying”; cf. NRSV “practice augury or witchcraft.” For suggestions regarding the practices involved see B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 133, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 320.
27You must not round off the corners of the hair on your head or ruin the corners of your beard.
Heb “and you [singular] shall not ruin the corner of your [singular] beard.” Smr, LXX, Syriac, and Tg. Ps.-J. have the plural pronouns (i.e., “you” and “your” plural) rather than the singular of the MT.
28You must not slash your body for a dead person
Heb “And slash for the soul you shall not give.” The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul, person, life”) can sometimes refer to a “dead person” (cf. Lev 21:1, 5; 22:5). See J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 306, 320–21.
or incise a tattoo on yourself.
Heb “and a writing of incision you shall not give in you.”
I am the Lord.
29Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute,
Heb “to make her practice harlotry.” Some recent English versions regard this as religious or temple prostitution (cf. TEV, CEV).
so that the land does not practice prostitution and become full of lewdness.
Heb “and the land become full of lewdness.” Regarding the term “lewdness,” see the note on Lev 18:17 above.

Purity, Honor, Respect, and Honesty

30 “‘You must keep my Sabbaths and fear my sanctuary. I am the Lord. 31Do not turn to the spirits of the dead and do not seek familiar spirits
The prohibition here concerns those who would seek special knowledge through the spirits of the dead, whether the dead in general or dead relatives in particular (i.e., familiar spirits; see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 321, and B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 134). Cf. Lev 20:6 below.
to become unclean by them. I am the Lord your God.
32You must stand up in the presence of the aged, honor the presence of an elder, and fear your God. I am the Lord. 33When a foreigner resides
Heb “And when a sojourner sojourns.”
with you in your land, you must not oppress him.
34The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so
Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here.
you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
35You must not do injustice in the regulation of measures, whether of length, weight, or volume.
That is, liquid capacity (HALOT 640 s.v. מְשׂוּרָה). Cf. ASV, NIV, NRSV, TEV “quantity”; NAB, NASB “capacity.”
36You must have honest balances,
Heb “balances of righteousness,” and so throughout this sentence.
honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.
An ephah is a dry measure which measures about four gallons, or perhaps one third of a bushel, while a hin is a liquid measure of about 3.6 liters (= approximately 1 quart).
I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt.
37You must be sure to obey all my statutes and regulations.
Heb “And you shall keep all my statutes and all my regulations and you shall do them.” This appears to be a kind of verbal hendiadys, where the first verb is a modifier of the action of the second verb (see GKC 386 #120.d, although שָׁמַר [shamar, “to keep”] is not cited there; cf. Lev 22:31).
I am the Lord.’”

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